From Up on Poppy Hill
DVD + Blu-ray
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From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and The Secret World of Arrietty, comes another animated triumph. Yokohama, 1963. Japan is picking itself up from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. The mood is one of both optimism and conflict as the young generation struggles to throw off the shackles of a troubled past. Against this backdrop of hope and change, a friendship begins to blossom between high school students Umi (Sarah Bolger) and Shun (Anton Yelchin) – but a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart. From a screenplay by Academy Award-winner Hayao Miyazaki and featuring an all-star English voice cast!
Goro Miyazaki's From Up on Poppy Hill (Kokuriko-Zaka Kara) was the top-grossing animated film in Japan in 2011 (outdrawing two Pokémon movies), and won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. The story unfolds in Yokohama during preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Each morning as she prepares for school, industrious Umi Matsuzaki (voiced by Sarah Bolger) flies signal flags from her family's boarding house in memory of her father, who was lost at sea during the Korean War. Shun Kazama (Anton Yelchin), the engaging editor of the high school newspaper, gets her involved in his campaign to preserve "the Latin Quarter," a beloved but dilapidated building that houses the school clubs. The effort to save the ramshackle structure sparks a believable romance between these likable teenagers. Hayao Miyazaki and Keiko Niwa adapted the story from a graphic novel by Chizuru Takahashi and Tetsuro Sayama. The filmmaking is more intimate and assured than Goro Miyazaki's Tales from Earthsea (2006). Many Japanese retain a nostalgia for the early '60s, when the Olympics proclaimed their country's reemergence from the destruction of World War II and the period of rebuilding that followed. Kyo Sakamoto's crossover pop hit "Ue o muite aruko," which Americans know as "Sukiyaki," sets the tone. The Ghibli artists outdid themselves creating the dust and junk decades of high school students left in the Latin Quarter: the audience can understand both the students' affection for their ratty headquarters and the administrators' desire to be rid of an eyesore. At a time when American animation is dominated by fast-paced, big-budget CG films, From Up on Poppy Hill reminds viewers of the singular warmth of hand-drawn animation. (Rated PG: some mature themes, minor tobacco use) --Charles SolomonSee all Editorial Reviews
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The story itself is a straightforward teen romance between the main protagonist, Umi, and the lad Shun.
However, there are many other elements which draw the viewer in. One, of course, is the physical setting of Poppy Hill. It truly looks magnificent - an unspoilt, undeveloped neighborhood of old Japanese homes set high on Poppy Hill with views to the sea. Even Umi's route to school looks spectacular as she crosses the bridge over the tram tracks, while the background scenes of the markets, the busy main streets, and docks are full of detail to dazzle the eyes. A nice touch is a Coke sign on a small advertising hoarding amidst the mass of Kanji characters. Then there is Umi's bicycle ride down the hill to the markets - an inspired whip through the neighborhood - set to Kyu Sakamoto's classic hit "Sukiyaki" from that period. That's definitely a scene that merits multiple viewings. (What remains of the old sections of Yokohama today? Judging by one of the extras on the Blu-ray disc, I'd guess, sadly, not much at all.)
Apart from beautiful settings, this movie has HEART. No villains. No "funny" sidekicks. No slapstick. No super heroes. No whiny kids. No simplistic caricatures. No magical hoopla. In the notes, Miyazaki reflects on the mood of optimism in Japan circa 1963, as the Korean war had ended, the economy was firing up, and preparations were in full swing for the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Accordingly, while Umi may have lost her father in the Korean War, and her mother may be working/studying in the US, that's not enough to stop this girl. She is rock solid. Look after little brother and sister? Check! Feed the lodgers, and balance the budget? No worries! Naturally grandma is proud of her, though she does wonder when Umi will get over the loss of her father. Which brings us to the raising of the signal flags....and Shun.
If you want to be moved, see it.
• I have a Samsung Blu-ray Disc Player BD-C5500, BD-C5500C so, I should be able to play the Blu-ray Disc from the 2-disc set From up on Poppy Hill.
• The Audio Part of the Blu-ray disc has problems, one of the voice-over tracks specifically. It seems to be the major speech track.
o Its sound is extremely muffled, almost inaudible, and overwhelmed by the music track.
o There seems to be a second voice-over track because once in a while a voice will pop out loudly.
* Any troubleshooting actions completed
• I've listened to the Blu-ray and DVD video discs and the problem has been consistent in all three albums. (I returned the album three times.)
• All my other Blu-ray DVDs play perfectly
• I did a 24 hour purchase of the video through my Time Warner account to compare the sound between the disk I purchased and the one I rented. The Time Warner showing had no audio problems at all.
* A detailed description of any missing parts
• All parts were included